- U.S Private Payrolls Grow by 234,000 in January
The new year got off to a strong start for job creation, with businesses adding 234,000 in January, according to a report Wednesday from ADP and Moody’s Analytics.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had been looking for private payrolls to grow by 185,000.
Job creation was concentrated largely in service-related industries, which contributed 212,000 to the total.
However, within that sector some of the better-paying industries showed solid gains: Trade, transportation and utilities led with 51,000, education and health services added 47,000 and professional and businesses services contributed 46,000. Leisure and hospitality services also grew by 46,000.
On the goods-producing side, manufacturing added another 12,000 jobs while construction saw 9,000 new hires despite the traditionally slow month for the industry.
“The job market juggernaut marches on,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “Given the strong January job gain, 2018 is on track to be the eighth consecutive year in which the economy creates over 2 million jobs. If it falls short, it is likely because businesses can’t find workers to fill all the open job positions.”
ADP’s latest count comes with the national unemployment rate at 4.1 percent though wage pressures remain muted. Economic growth overall has been solid, with the Atlanta Fed projecting the economy to grow 4.2 percent in the first quarter.
In an interview with CNBC, Zandi said the current pace of job growth suggests an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent by the end of 2018.
“It’s obviously very strong,” Zandi said of the job maket.
In fact, he said the pace of gains is likely to push the Federal Reserve to get more aggressive with interest rates. The U.S. central bank has indicated the likelihood for three more quarter-point increases of its benchmark funds rate this year, but Zandi said that may not be enough to keep the economy from overheating.
“I’d be pretty surprised if they don’t revise that up and give us four rate increases this year,” he said. “Every time employment goes past full employment in a meaningful way, you have a recession.”
“It’s going to be pretty tough to land the plane on the tarmac, so the Fed’s got to get going here,” Zandi added.
The policymaking Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day meeting Wednesday, with the market not expecting a chance in rates until March. However, the committee could tilt is hand toward future actions.
The release also comes two days ahead of the government’s closely watched nonfarm payrolls report. The ADP and Labor Department counts often differ widely — in December, ADP and Moody’s reported 242,000 more private jobs (revised down from an initially reported 250,000) against the government’s total of 148,000 for total nonfarm gains.
At the very least, the strong ADP January report “suggests that the weaker December reading on the official non-farm employment measure was not the start of any serious downturn in labor market conditions” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.
In terms of company size, ADP reported that new hires were evenly distributed. Mid-sized firms (50 to 499 workers) led with 91,000, while large companies added 85,000 and small businesses hired 58,000.
Oil Prices Recover Slightly Amidst Demand Concerns in U.S. and China
Oil Prices Continue Slide as Market Skepticism Grows Over OPEC+ Cuts
Global oil markets witnessed a continued decline on Wednesday as investors assessed the impact of extended OPEC+ cuts against a backdrop of diminishing demand prospects in China.
Brent crude oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian crude oil, declined by 63 cents to $76.57 a barrel while U.S. WTI crude oil lost 58 cents to $71.74 a barrel.
Last week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, agreed to maintain voluntary output cuts of approximately 2.2 million barrels per day through the first quarter of 2024.
Despite this effort to tighten supply, market sentiment remains unresponsive.
“The decision to further reduce output from January failed to stimulate the market, and the recent, seemingly coordinated, assurances from Saudi Arabia and Russia to extend the constraints beyond 1Q 2024 or even deepen the cuts if needed have also fallen to deaf ears,” noted PVM analyst Tamas Varga.
Adding to the unease, Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut its official selling price (OSP) for flagship Arab Light to Asia in January for the first time in seven months raises concerns about the struggling demand for oil.
Amid the market turmoil, concerns over China’s economic health cast a shadow, potentially limiting fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer.
Moody’s recent decision to lower China’s A1 rating outlook from stable to negative further contributes to the apprehension.
Analysts will closely watch China’s preliminary trade data, including crude oil import figures, set to be released on Thursday.
The outcome will provide insights into the trajectory of China’s refinery runs, with expectations leaning towards a decline in November.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia has added an extra layer of complexity to the oil market dynamics.
Discussions centered around the cooperation between Russia, the UAE, and OPEC+ in major oil and gas projects, highlighting the intricate geopolitical factors influencing oil prices.
U.S. Crude Production Hits Another Record, Posing Challenges for OPEC
U.S. crude oil production reached a new record in September, surging by 224,000 barrels per day to 13.24 million barrels per day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a consecutive monthly increase, adding 342,000 barrels per day over the previous three months, marking an annualized growth rate of 11%.
The surge in domestic production has led to a buildup of crude inventories and a softening of prices, challenging OPEC⁺ efforts to stabilize the market.
Despite a decrease in the number of active drilling rigs over the past year, U.S. production continues to rise.
This growth is attributed to enhanced drilling efficiency, with producers focusing on promising sites and drilling longer horizontal well sections to maximize contact with oil-bearing rock.
While OPEC⁺ production cuts have stabilized prices at relatively high levels, U.S. producers are benefiting from this stability.
The current strategy seems to embrace non-OPEC non-shale (NONS) producers, similar to how North Sea producers did in the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia, along with its OPEC⁺ partners, is resuming its role as a swing producer, balancing the market by adjusting its output.
Despite OPEC’s inability to formally collaborate with U.S. shale producers due to antitrust laws, efforts are made to include other NONS producers like Brazil in the coordination system.
This outreach aligns with the historical pattern of embracing rival producers to maintain control over a significant share of global production.
In contrast, U.S. gas production hit a seasonal record high in September, reaching 3,126 billion cubic feet.
However, unlike crude, there are signs that gas production growth is slowing due to very low prices and the absence of a swing producer.
Gas production increased by only 1.8% in September 2023 compared to the same month the previous year.
While the gas market is in the process of rebalancing, excess inventories may persist, keeping prices low.
The impact of a strengthening El Niño in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean could further influence temperatures and reduce nationwide heating demand, impacting gas prices in the coming months.
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